About efc

In the early 60's two award winning executives from WETA, (Washington DC Public Television)--Bob Smith and Jack Hunter-- had a vision: Closed-circuit television for schools in Northern Virginia. One problem. There was no federal funding available for "closed circuit television". They were aware, however, of potential funding through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. So, taking a gamble, they left WETA in 1968, applied for funding and obtained a broadcast license for WNVT, UHF Channel 53 serving the community and schools in Northern Virginia. Northern Virginia Community College provided Studio space in exchange for allowing them access to the facilities for classes in broadcast engineering was used to secure matching funds.

While the station was being built they hired a small team of young filmmakers, and contracted to National Instructional Television (NIT), later to become the Agency for Instructional Television (AIT), to produce dozens of award winning national instructional television series (Inside/Out, Self Incorporated, Bread and Butterflies, Trade-offs Thinkabout, etc). These programs filled much of the daytime programming schedules on state and local educational television stations and reached millions of public school students nationwide. They also provided the team with invaluable experience working with educators and children of all ages. These were good years... Too good to last. Although the film division's contracts paid for itself the costs of runnning the television station grew out of control. In 1974 the television station and all its' facilities had to be sold. The film division was given notice and sufficient time to complete its' contracts. But it had no home.

The crew was given a choice. With a little money from their contracts saved, they could buy new equipment , rent new space and try to make it on their own or.... they could close up shop. They too decided to take a gamble.

For awhile it was touch and go. But the team kept together producing, "Pacific Bridges" and "Pearls", two award winning minority programs for the Department of Education (thank you Dave Berkman), a small program for NASA, a teacher training program for AIT (thank you Larry Walcoff) and an award winnning local program for the National Zoo. It also gave our writers and producers time to develope a proposal for the Department of Education's up and coming Request for Proposals on parenting.

It was a long shot. The competition was tough. The largest, most celebrated PBS television stations in the nation. WGBH in Boston. WNET in New York, WQED in Pittsburgh, KCET in Los Angeles, KLRU in Austin Texas and WTTW in Chicago, Illinois. But Jack Hunter thought we had one advantage .

 

 

As filmmakers the world was our studio. We could film anywhere. In California, in Texas., in the inner city and on rural farmland, in small kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and backyards, in hospitals, in parks and playgrounds, in swimming pools, on the streets and in the alleyways. in amusement parks, at zoos, in cars and schools, and in workplaces. Pretty much anywhere parents and children could and would likely be. And he had us produce a demonstration reel that studio bound broadcast stations could not match.

 

 

 

So a miracle happened. In 1976, like the mythological bird the Phoenix, Educational Film Center (EFC). a small, independant, non profit, educational multimedia company burst onto the national scene with a 2.4 million dollars contract from the US Department of Education to produce "Footsteps" an award winning PBS series on parenting. (thank you Mike Neben)

 

 

 

 

It was followed by "Powerhouse" a 3.5 million dollar, award winning PBS children's series on health and nutrition. Then, an NEH/NBC After school Special"Out of Tiime" named by Action For Children's Television (ACT) the most outstanding individual children's program of the year.

 

 

 

 

One project followed another and another. One client followed another. Trained by the best educators in the country, in combination with some of the best creative writers and filmmakers in the country, EFC merged entertainment and education and by the turn of the century Educational Film Center was considered one of the nation's leading producers of effective quality educational programming. Quality education, high entertainment and measurable results at reasonable costs.

 

 

 

As 2018 approaches EFC looks back at a remarkable record of having produced and distributed over 600 documentary and dramatic productions reaching millions of children and adult viewers worldwide, winning countless awards for it's forward thinking in the world of education and having a whale of a good time in the process. As for the future, with new ideas in education and technology emerging everyday we look foward to and welcome the new challenges ahead.